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I am going to play in a tournament this weekend and I have no idea what division to sign up for. There is Male Pro Open, Advanced Male, Male Pro Master, Advanced Male Master,
Male Pro Grandmaster, Advanced Male Grandmaster, Intermediate Male. I am registered as an ameatur with the PDGA, I am 28 and have been playing for 8 years. I think I am a 5 handicap by my calculation, or I average around plus 5. I play in the Buffalo area about 4-7 times a month. My best rd ever is minus 2 which I have shot a few times at different courses. I was thinking I would sign up for the advanced ameatur. I just found out that there is spots up for grabs in the Vibram and the USDGC in the pro division and I wanna know if I would even have a chance. My number one goal is to make the cut. So I don't wanna get in over my head. Reason being one of my best friends is in town from Germany and we are matched up to play with each other... Can't miss the cut! I would appreciate any input

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in my opinion the biggest difference I've seen between pros and advanced is putting. If you can sink everything within 40ft every time play pro. Just my 2 cents have fun.
What's your tournament experience? When you say you average +5, is that "posted par" or tournament scoring (par 3 on every hole, regardless of posted par)? How tough or easy are the courses you play?

Basically for me, I've always looked at the divisions like this:

Intermediate - can compete in small, local leagues/tourneys and get it done and have one really stellar round every 4-5 rounds and 4-5 excellent shots per round, but too inconsistent off the tee, in their approaches and putting to get it done every round.

Advanced - can get it done probably every other round...if not every round (for the players at/near the top of the category). Excellent and consistent placement off the tee, stick most of their approach shots within 10-15 feet of the basket (from 150-175 feet and in) and make a majority of their putts from 30-35 feet and in.

Open - get it done EVERY round. Long AND straight/accurate off the tee. Razor-sharp accuracy in their approaches. Only a rare missed putt inside of 35-40 feet.

Masters is for 40+ year olds, and Grand Masters is 50+. Obviously those are out if you're only 28. Safest bet by far will be Intermediate...and even then, you might find the competition to be tough, depending upon where you're shooting those -2 to +5 scores (how tough those courses are). I've shot -8 or -9 (18 holes) using tournament scoring at some of my area courses...and I can't crack the top 10 Intermediates at a lot of sanctioned tourneys. FWIW.
This is the course I have been playing lately. I play posted par from champion, pro, or white tees depending on time available. It takes me 1 hour 20 min to get to the closest course and these are almost excactly the same distance from my house. Emery is CRAZY long! If I played them all as 3 I wouldn't score nearly as well. Chestnut is a different story. I play close to or under par there and would be around plus 5 with tournament par. I would say judging by the description above I should play Advanced. I am consistent, but on level ground I max out around 420 ft. I have played in one tournament and got put in pro and placed 28th out of 32. but it wasn't close. Here is the other course
I also have 3 baskets in my back yard that I just got and I am practicing putting daily. I am not deadly from anything outside 22 ft or so, but 15 - 20ft I am money.
I max out at only around 330 feet off the tee...but my approach game from 200 feet and in usually makes up for my "shortcomings" off the tee. Getting ready for Masters (40+)....May 1, 2011! :-) 420 feet off the tee sounds pretty darned good! However, like Matt said, if you aren't sticking 90+ percent of your putts inside of 40 feet, Open will chew you up and spit you out. Advanced vs. Intermediate is up to you. If you don't know exactly where your approach shots are going to land from 150-175 feet and in 70-80 percent of the time and you're not sticking 60-70 percent of your putts between 25-30 feet, I'd say play Intermediate. If you don't know where your 75-100 foot approach shots are going 90-100 percent of the time and you're not making half your putts from 25-30 feet, DEFINITELY play Intermediate.

Don't want to tell you what to do, as it's not my place to do so. What you are describing though sounds like you should register for Intermediate play unless it's a smaller sanctioned tourney. I'll play Pro (not Open, but when tourneys just have Pro and Am), Advanced and Intermediate depending upon the event...but I am very-much an Intermediate player. Until I get about 25-30 feet longer off the tee and stop missing two or three 25-30 foot putts/round, I have no business even thinking about playing Advanced. But that's just me.
If I'm not mistaking, there is no way you can play the USDGC. Reason is you have to win a qualifier event playing as a Pro. I could be wrong though. I have also heard that you can pay some astronomical amount and get in. If you have never played everything as Par 3 than you are most likely getting in over your head playing any event that does not offer Recreational class. You need to get some tournament experience under your belt before you go after the Big name tournaments.
As far as making the cut goes and I could be wrong here also but I think the Worlds and the USDGC are the only 2 tournamnets in Disc Golf that use a cut line. So the Vibram open you should be able to play the entire weekend. However you most likely won't be paired up with your buddy. Plus keep in mind even if you play in the Vibram as an Advanced Am you are going to be playing against the best of the best as far as Am's are concerned.
About your putting........
I play Intermediate and am money from anything inside 35ft. I can hit around 50% from inside 50ft. I can hit around 25% from inside 75 ft. and I am stuck in the Intermediate class and still don't have a win. So realize that if you are money from 15-20 ft. you have a long way to go before you get to where an Advanced player is. Most Advanced players are money inside 40ft. and only a little off from inside 50ft.

My suggestion for you would be play Advanced Am in the Vibram if you really want to play. It will be good for you to use it as a learning experience. Pay close attention to anyone you end up carded with. Learn from them! As far as the USDGC goes even if you can play you are way far from being able to play in that. That is on the hardest course in Disc Golf and even the Pro's in the top 50 struggle at that course. You would most likely end up dejected. However I have talked to a number of people who have gone to spectate and loved it. They said the things you can learn from doing this are invaluable. You will be watching the best from all over the World at that event.
Than when you get a chance start playing in the REC class at some C-Tier events before you jump up to the big A-Tiers!!!!
Thanks, its tough for me to get to these events. The closest course is 1 hour 20 min... I played in a wed league with the ameaturs last night and placed 4th out of about 60 so I suppose I will play Advanced am just cause I'm more interested in improving my game than actually winning first place. I think shot selection is my biggest downfall. Yesterday I was like oh, I never thought of using that shot... A lot! but then I had better shots than they did most of the time. Man you are a machine dropping 50 ft putts. Where I play you would be very hard pressed to find a lane to make long range putts. I suppose my home courses are very difficult as well. Very Very wooded= a 250 ft drive usually is max even if you got 450 in ya. I appreciate your input and I will try to do the same for you guys...
Hey Daniel T Neilly,
Let's start by process of elimination. As a 28 yr old male you do not qualify for a gender or age protected division. So you can't play in any women's division. You are too old to play Junior's (even if it were offered as 19 is the limit) and too young to play Masters (40+) or Grand Masters (50+) in either Pro or Amateur.

You tried Pro and were in over your head. There is no shame in that. Those Pros earned their skills and have paid their dues. And there is nothing wrong with getting crushed but competition is more fun and you will learn more about your game if you are competing at your own level. If your upcoming event is a USDGC and Vibram Open qualifier (isn't Vibram next week?) then likely only the best score(s) in Open will win the exemption. Open players will drive in from far away to have a shot at those exemptions so your chances are darn small. Better to buy a Powerball Lottery ticket and when you hit big you can buy yourself an exemption (you could generously get one for me too, for suggesting it :), or what the heck, let's blow off these events and buy a disc golf island in the Caribbean and make our own tournament).

If your goal is to make the cut then playing Open is a poor choice. So we are down to Advanced ( Am 1) or Intermediate (Am 2), unless they offer Am 3 or Am 4, which many tournaments do.

If you have a PDGA Handicap Rating then that rating will limit which division you can play in (if your rating is high enough). For a major event (which this one sounds like) the simple choice is to play in the division your rating puts you in. If your rating does not force you into a higher division then my advice is to play in the lowest division they offer.

As a newbie to the tournament world, you have many lessons to be learned. You have already learned the lesson of humility :) with your foray into Pros. Now it is time to learn how to compete in a place where you have a chance. You will not be the only golfer with skills in the lowest division. Heck, you might be over your head in that division as well. You never know who might show up or how good they may play that day. Since you cannot control your competition, don't worry about them. Just take care of yourself and play well for your current level and let the chips fall where they may.

BTW, a better goal than making the cut (which I assume you mean to cash, aka win something) is to play well. You know where your game is at. If you play well at your level then you have succeeded even if your scores would come in last in Open.

With more experience in tournaments you will learn where you belong and there may be times you purposely play up for competitive reasons. At the beginning of your tournament career it is best to start at the bottom and work your way up.
mark is smart.
why, yes, Mark is wise and smart. Listen to above advice and remember that typically you don't go back down the ladder. So start in Intermediate and play there until your fellow golfers are calling you a bagger or you want to move up for more competition and knowledge in Advanced, and then subsequently pros. Sounds like you'll do well enough in Intermediate to make the payout cut and that's always satisfying.
Yes Mark is quite a fart smeller, I mean smart feller!
and I owe those long putts to Mark. You wanna learn a thing or two look up his Discraft videos on You Tube. I SUCKED at putting till I did Marks putting confidence program. The rest is history! I am so confident now that I look at a hundred foot putt and honestly think I can hit it! And if I ever get into a slump it usually due to the fact that i'm not telling myself I can can that putt.
Thanks Mark for everything you do for this sport!!!!!
Well Said : As a newbie to the tournament world, you have many lessons to be learned. You have already learned the lesson of humility :) with your foray into Pros. Now it is time to learn how to compete in a place where you have a chance. You will not be the only golfer with skills in the lowest division. Heck, you might be over your head in that division as well. You never know who might show up or how good they may play that day. Since you cannot control your competition, don't worry about them. Just take care of yourself and play well for your current level and let the chips fall where they may.

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